Golden Legend – Saint Eusebius

Article

Here next followeth the Life of Saint Eusebius, and first of his name.

Eusebius is said of eu, which is as much to say as good, and sebe, that is, eloquence or station. Or Eusebius is as much to say as worship; he had bounty in sanctification, eloquence in defence of the faith, station in the steadfastness of martyrdom, and good worshipping in the reverence of God.

Of Saint Eusebius.

Eusebius was always a virgin, and whilst he was yet young in the faith he received baptism and name of Eusebius the pope, in which baptism the hands of angels were seen that lifted him out of the font. On a day a certain lady was esprised of his beauty, and would have gone to his chamber, and the angels kept the door in such wise that she might not enter, and on the morn she went to him and kneeled down at his feet, and required of him mercy and forgiveness of that she had been in will to have made him sin, and he pardoned her debonairly. And when he was ordained to be a priest, he shone in so great holiness, that when he sang the solemnities of the masses the angels served him. After this, when the heresy of the Arians had infected all Italy, and Constantine the emperor favouring them, Julius the pope sacred Eusebius into bishop of Vercelli the city, the which held the principate of the other cities in Italy. And when the heretics heard say that, they shut fast the doors of the church, which was of our Blessed Lady and Blessed Virgin Saint Mary. Then the blessed saint kneeled down, and anon the doors opened by his prayer. Then put he out Eugenius, bishop of Milan, which was corrupted of this evil heresy, and ordained in his place Denis, a man right catholic. And thus Eusebius purged all the church of the occident, and Anastasius purged the orient of the heresy Arian. Arius was a priest of Alexandria, which said and affirmed that Christ was a pure creature, and said that he was not God, and for us was made, that we by him as by an instrument were made of God. And therefore Constantine ordained a council at Nice whereas this error was condemned. And after this Arius died of a miserable death, for he voided all his entrails beneath at his fundament. And Constantius, son of Constantine, was corrupt with this heresy, for which cause this Constantius had great hate against Eusebius, and assembled a council of many bishops, and called Denis, and sent many letters to Eusebius, and he knew well that the malice of him was so great that he deigned not come to him. Wherefore the emperor established against the excusation of him that the council should be solemnised at Milan which was nigh to him. And when he saw that Eusebius was not there, he commanded to the Arians that they should write their faith and send it to Denis, bishop of Milan, and twenty-nine bishops he made subscribe the same faith. And when Eusebius heard that, he issued out of his city for to go to Milan, and said well tofore that he should sufler much. And thus as he came to a flood for to go to Milan, the ship tarried long on that other side of the river, but the ship came at his commandment and bare him over and his fellowship, without governor. Then the foresaid Denis came against him and kneeled down to his feet and required pardon. And when Eusebius could not be turned by gifts ne by menaces of this emperor, he said tofore them all: Ye say that the Son is less than the Father, wherefore have ye then made my son and my disciple greater than me? for the disciple is not above the master, nor the son above the father. Then were they moved by this reason, and showed to him the writing that they had made and Denis had written, and they said that he had written, and he said: Nay, I shall not subscribe after my son, to whom I am sovereign by authority, but burn this writing, and after write another, if ye will, ere I shall write. And thus by the will of God that schedule was burnt, which Denis and the twenty-nine bishops had subscribed, and then the Arians wrote again another schedule and delivered it to Eusebius and to the other bishops for to subscribe, but the bishops, enhardened of Eusebius, would in no wise consent to subscribe, but they were glad that thilke schedule, which by constraint they had subscribed, was burnt. Then was Constantius angry, and delivered Eusebius to the will of the Arians, and anon they drew him from the middle of the bishops and beat him cruelly, and drew him from the highest of the palace by the steps down to the lowest, and from the lowest to the highest, unto the time that his head was all tobruised and bled much blood, and yet he would not consent to them. And then they bound his hands behind him, and after, drew him with a cord about his neck, and he thanked God, and said that he was all ready for to die for the defence of the faith of holy Church. Then Constantius exiled Liberius the pope, Denis, Paulinus, and all the other bishops that Eusebius had enhardened. And then the Arians led Eusebius into Jerapolin, a city of Palestine, and enclosed him in a strait place, in so much that it was strait and short that he might not stretch out his feet, ne turn him from one side to another, and he had his head so strait that he might not move it, ne turn hither ne thither his members in no manner, save only his shoulders and arms, the place was so strait in Iength and in breadth. And when Constantius was dead, Julian succeeded him, and would please every man, and commanded that all the bishops which had been exiled should be repealed, and the temples of the gods to be opened, and would that all men should use peace under what law he were. And by this occasion Eusebius issued out of prison and came to Athanasius, and told to him what he had suffered. Then Julian died, and Jovinian reigned, and the Arians ceased. Saint Eusebius returned to the town of Vercelli, where the people received him with great joy. And after, when Valens reigned, the Arians came again in their forces, and entered into the house of Eusebius, and stoned him with stones, and so put him to death, and he died debonairly in our Lord, and was buried in tbe church that he had made. And it is said that he impetred and gat grace of our Lord that no Arian might live in that city. And after the chronicles he lived eighty-eight years. He flourished about the year of our Lord three hundred and fifty.